So Who Gets To Know

cities burned and traffic stopped
people beaten by mobs of frightened citizens
united
supporting and defending each other
gathered and powerful
but
claiming to feel unsafe
the group growing
their security growing
their safety
they say with each other’s voices
somehow shrinking anyway
a man hides behind a mailbox
trying to be tiny
forgetting his red hat like a beacon
wondering where
can I go
who can I ask
to find out what it feels like
because
if this crowd is so afraid of me
like they keep saying
why do I have to hide from them
they’re after me
and I feel unsafe
wondering how
to find out what it feels like
does somebody know
because this me and this them
sure feels like all of us
so who’s left
and where
and who gets to go
and who gets asked
and who gets to know
what it feels like to be safe.

 

Drunk in the Desert

I have such a bright memory –
our sturdy room that mom kept up
where we jumped from bed to bed
while thunder boomed outside
and you said
it’ll never stop raining.

But it did.
The sun came out and stayed.
You were dried
shriveled
shrunk
and have hoarded every drop
trying to outdrink the desert
ever since.

The bottom has no rocks.
The bottom has no bottom.
Just walls
all the way
down
wobbling
forever
in
half-
collapse.

On the Riverboat Twain

If you were at the party on the boat
that cut the humid vapor
on the Big Muddy
that buggy Summer night
you would have seen Jim
who doesn’t drink now but said
Huck’ll bury a few shots for him.

And if you joined us in the smoke
on the deck that held the cricket’s counsel
when the calliope took a rest
you might have caught me
whispering to The Judge
that I heard
Tom saw your daughter
Becky thatch her roof
in nothing but a nightie.

But the Judge just sustained his stomach’s
minor objection to the drink,
belched a gassy pardon
and said he didn’t like to think
of that boy wearing girls’ clothes.

Un-brella Weather

In October the wind came at its worst
and the rain became confused
from knowing how to fall
just plain down
anymore.

The boy said the rain is going sideways.

His sister used one hand
to put up her hood
then casually closed her umbrella
because she knew
it wouldn’t help anymore.

The boy said hey we need that.

But his sister just put the furled umbrella
(a rainbow colored rebuttal)
under an arm
and used one hand
to help him put up his hood too.

Cleanup Hitter

It takes no thought to lace me up
or to walk in me towards home
where you abuse me.
But I’ll take your little beatings.
The casual wooden raps knocking loose
A few burdensome clumps of clay
to prepare for the run you hope to make

Then you drive my cleats into the ground
and that dirty friction of hard earth
stirs up hints of my own scented body –
plastic, leather, steel.
A strikingly visceral lineup.

If only I were you instead of your shoe
so your twisted beginnings could be batted from me
like the packed dirt underfoot.
A few practiced taps in just the right spot
and with each one, another old scandal
cascades to earth,
lost among the swept remnants
of the others like it.

But let it not be a mere swap.
Shame for shame
crime for crime
regret for heavy, stuck regret.
Let it be a breaking loose of aged burdens
so we may steal a faultless moment
when we strike out for home again.